The Superbowl, the most watched events in the United States, occurred last week, and ad agencies vied to have their products advertised to the millions if only for seconds.
Companies invest, on average, $4 million dollars for just a 30 second commercial. SodaStream, a company who manufactures a machine allowing people to make soda in their own homes, aired a commercial with Scarlett Johansson. It immediately received an incredible amount of controversy, Scarlett Johansson resigned from her position as a global ambassador for the organization Oxfam.
SodaStream has one of its 22 factories in Maaleh Adumim, a city less than five miles east of Jerusalem. In this factory, Jews and Muslims, Israelis and Arabs, work side-by-side, receiving equal pay for equal jobs. Many Palestinian Arab employees receive as much as 10 times more in salary than they did in their previous jobs. SodaStream even pays for Palestinian Arabs to have medical insurance through a private Israeli company because it fears its Palestinian Arab employees under rule of the Palestinian National Authority (PA) will not have sufficient medical insurance. This factory also has a mosque for its Muslim employees and a synagogue for its Jewish employees.
What could anyone have against a factory that is granting equality and incredibly high workplace conditions? The factory is located on land conquered in the Israeli 1967 war. And yes, that means Jews who are living in their ancestral homeland of over 3000 years are subject to a double standard and vicious delegitimization. People of the BDS movement, a movement to boycott, divest, and sanction companies who do business with Israel have slandered Johansson for taking part.
To the BDS movement, a company that supports Jews living in their ancient homeland, coexisting with their Palestinian neighbors, paying Palestinian Arabs more money than they would make in jobs under the PA and building them a mosque so they have a center to practice their religion as they choose to is something that must be stopped .
Bringing this international issue back to UC Irvine, our fellow Anteaters in ASUCI voted last year on divestment legislation in Legislative Council to divest from companies that do business in Israel. This type of legislation is not concerned with promoting any sort of peace, coexistence or tolerance between Israelis and Arabs; rather, their primary focus is to slander and condemn Israel. This year, at many other UC campuses, divestment legislation has reached student governments.
Last year, our student government chose to say no to social justice, no to peace, and no to co-existence to promote their own personal racism and bigotry. This year, many campuses are getting a chance to take back last year’s mistake. Check out who your representative is in ASUCI, and make sure they are representing you and the values you stand for, and the values our university strives to promote.
Daniel Narvy is a fourth-year political science major. He can be reached at email@example.com